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Cultural Relations and Policies

Cultural Relations and Policies

Akira Iriye

Cultural relations may be defined as interactions, both direct and indirect, among two or more cultures. Direct interactions include physical encounters with people and objects of another culture. Indirect relations are more subtle, involving such things as a person's ideas and prejudices about another people, or cross-national influences in philosophy, literature, music, art, and fashion. When cultural interactions deal with such matters as officially sponsored exchange programs or dissemination of books and movies, they may be called cultural policies. But not all cultural relations are cultural policies; there are vast areas of cultural interactions that have nothing or little to do with governmental initiatives. This essay, therefore, will deal primarily with broad themes in the history of American cultural relations, mentioning cultural policies only when they play a significant role in determining the nature of the overall cultural relationship with other countries.

The basic assumption here, of course, is that the United States is definable as a culture, as are all other nations in the world. In other words, each country has its own cultural identity in that it is defined by people who share certain traditions, memories, and ways of life. In this sense, all international relations are intercultural relations. The United States's dealings and contacts with, and the American people's attitudes and policies toward, any foreign country are conditioned by the historical and cultural outlooks of the two countries. Insofar as no two nations are completely identical, any discussion of foreign affairs must start with the assumption that we are analyzing two societies of different traditions as well as two entities embodying distinct sets of interests.

This is a different approach to the study of foreign affairs from the usual interpretations that stress military, security, trade, and other issues that affect a country's "interests." In terms of such factors, nations are more or less interchangeable. Balance-of-power considerations, for instance, have a logic of their own irrespective of the cultural identity of a given actor, as do commercial interests or national security arrangements. In a "realist" perspective, international affairs are comprehended in the framework of the interplay of national interests, and while each nation determines its own interests, all countries are similar in that they are all said to be driven by, or to pursue, considerations of their interests.

Cultural relations, in contrast, are both narrower and broader than the interaction of national interests. Instead of power, security, or economic considerations, cultural affairs are products of intangible factors such as a nation's ideas, opinions, moods, and tastes. Symbols, words, and gestures that reflect its people's thought and behavior patterns comprise their cultural vocabulary in terms of which they relate themselves to other peoples. Not so much a realistic ("rational") appraisal of national interests as a "symbolic" definition of a people's identity determines how they may respond to the rest of the world. In this regard, there are as many cultural relations as there are national cultures, and nothing as vague as "national interests" suffices to account for them. At the same time, cultural relations are also broader than the interplay of national interests in that they include cross-national interactions such as emigration and immigration, tourism, educational exchange, missionary and philanthropic activities, and various movements to promote human rights or the protection of the natural environment. These are cultural phenomena in that they cannot be reduced to security or economic considerations and deal with the interrelationships of individuals and groups across national boundaries.

A history of U.S. cultural relations, then, must deal with all those themes that together define a different world from the one consisting of sovereign rights and interests of nations. The bulk of work in international relations still focuses on the latter phenomenon, and historians have only begun to take the former themes seriously as objects of study.


From the beginning, Americans were interested in cultural themes in their foreign affairs. For one thing, at the time of the American Revolution the political and intellectual leaders were fond of stressing the multiethnic nature of the new republic. In most instances, to be sure, multiethnicity consisted of diverse European nationalities rather than distinctive racial groups. Compared with western European countries, the United States seemed unique in that no nationality constituted a majority of the nation, even though those of English stock represented nearly half the population. There were Welsh, Irish, Germans, French, Scandinavians, and others whose admixture with, and adoption of the language of, the English-speaking Americans impressed European visitors for decades after the Revolution. This was as much a cultural as a political undertaking; to establish a republic made up of people from many countries who imagined themselves to belong to the same community required some shared memory, a sense of Americanness, to distinguish the new nation from all others. How such a republic could survive in a world consisting of sovereign states, on one hand, and of large empires, on the other, was the key question.

One way for the American people to assure themselves that this could be done was through developing a fairly precise image of themselves. The idea of the "city on a hill," and the idealized self-perception that the Americans had struggled for the "rights of man," not simply the rights of Englishmen, implied the coming into existence of a new kind of nation and assumed that others, too, would look to the United States as a land of freedom and opportunity. Conversely, Americans would carry out their mission to spread the blessings of civilization and liberty to the less fortunate in distant countries. If, as so many writers asserted, America was the most progressive land in the world, it was because it was a country without archaic encumbrances, where men and women from many countries would come and work together to build a new, ideal community. Anybody, theoretically, could join the undertaking. By the same token, what happened here would be of universal applicability. If various races and groups could join together in the United States to realize an earthly paradise, there was no reason why they could not do so elsewhere in the world. It was in this sense that America was called humankind's best hope.

Such universalism implied a view of other peoples that was monolithic and an idea of history that was unilinear. Just as divergent groups who came to the United States would create one unified people, so the rest of the world would ultimately tend to that goal. The American dream would be realized globally, and the American experience would become a world experience. America would cease to be unique only when its ideals and institutions were firmly implanted in all parts of the globe. The entire world would become one great America.

This type of teleological idealism was quite obviously a cultural product and provided one basic framework in which Americans developed their cultural relations with other countries. Throughout most of the nineteenth century, this, the cultural framework, was probably the only way the majority of Americans knew how to relate themselves to others. Cultural relations in that sense were thus a vital aspect of national self-definition.

This can be seen in the ways in which Americans viewed non-European people. Europeans, of course, comprised the bulk of the population of the United States, and cultural ties across the Atlantic were quite important. At the same time, however, it was when Americans dealt, either directly or indirectly, with people outside Western civilization that their cultural self-awareness became most clearly articulated. For instance, they viewed Arabs, Hindus, or Chinese in the framework of their own self-definition. These people, in other words, would be judged in terms of their distance from the American ideals and of their capacity to approximate themif not immediately, then in the future. It is not surprising that observers of non-European societies frequently argued about whether these societies would ever transform themselves and become more like America. The basic assumption was, of course, that at the moment they lacked most of the ingredients that made the United States so progressive. Native populations in the Middle East, South Asia, or East Asia were almost invariably described as ignorant, indolent, and oppressed by arbitrary despots. They were the exact opposite of the Americans. Joel Barlow, poet and diplomat, described Hassan Pasha, dey of Algiers, as "a man of a most ungovernable temper; passionate, changeable, and unjust to such a degree that there is no calculating his policy from one moment to the next." William Eaton, appointed consul at Tunis by President John Adams, wrote of the "continual altercations, contentions and delays among the Arabs." "Poverty makes them thieves," he reported, "and practice renders them adroit in stealing." Similar expressions can be found at random in American writings on Turks, Chinese, Japanese, and other non-European nationalities throughout the nineteenth century.

A key question, given such an image of non-Europeans, was whether they had some redeeming qualities. On this point American universalism decreed that no people was so inherently depraved as to be totally incapable of attaining a higher level of civilization. The basic credo of American democracy was that any individual had certain abilities that could be developed to their potential if artificial restrictions were removed. Even those suffering under poverty and despotism were not entirely hopeless creatures. Given external stimuli to make them aware of alternative possibilities, and under favorable institutional conditions, they were certain to transform themselves. For, as the Democratic Review put it in 1839, "The same nature is common to all men they have equal and sacred claims they have high and holy faculties." It followed that Americans, having developed these faculties and made good their claims to progress, had a unique obligation to the rest of humankind. It was up to them, declared the Knickerbocker in 1840, "whether our fellow men shall reach the elevation whereof they are capable, and whether or not [we shall] confer on them the most inestimable of all earthly boons, the boon of civilization."

It might be thought that in such a situation, there could be no genuine, equal cultural relations, especially with non-Europeans; Americans would interact with other societies and cultures through the cultural vocabulary of their own. Other peoples would merely be at the receiving end of American civilization without anything to give in return. Such, however, was not always the case. Even in the first half of the nineteenth century, when optimism regarding American values was most notable, appreciation of different cultural standards and achievements was not lacking. One has only to recall the great interest in porcelain, silks, paintings, and other objects brought back from China. Curiosity about other societies coexisted with a disdain for despotic institutions or alien religions. Samuel Goodrich's A History of All Nations, a popular textbook published in 1851, explained that while Asians on the whole were "slavish superstitious [and] treacherous," their arts compared favorably with those of Europe. "All the efforts of European art and capital," Goodrich wrote, "have been unequal fully to imitate the carpets of Persia, the muslins of India, the porcelain of China, and the lacquered ware of Japan." When the first Japanese embassy arrived at San Francisco in 1860, a correspondent for the New York Times recorded, "It makes a white man blush to see how much more simple, tasteful and sensible they were in their uniforms than our grandees were in theirs."

Such observations revealed a fascination with the strange and the exotic that appeared lacking in Western civilization. Some went a step further and found positive significance in things Oriental. No group was more interested in them than the Transcendentalists. As they grew dissatisfied with the Christian religion as it was practiced in the 1830s and the 1840s, they turned to Hinduism and Buddhism with a sense of fresh discovery. Their understanding of these Asian religions may have been superficial, but they were the first group of Americans who seriously viewed the non-West not as an object of their mission but as a good in itself, as something that might be relevant to their own life. Ralph Waldo Emerson, for instance, was struck by the pantheism of the Hindu religion, which perceived godliness in all beings and all things. The pervading sense of serenity and the absence of a rigid demarcation between self and nature appealed to one who found modern life increasingly distasteful. As he remarked in his celebrated Harvard Divinity School address of 1838, "moral sentiment" had "dwelled always deepest in the minds of men in the devout and contemplative East Europe has always owed to oriental genius its divine impulses."

Only a handful of Americans went as far as the Transcendentalists in embracing the spirit of another civilization, but the appreciation of distinctive values and ways of life sustaining the Orient seems to have produced in many observers an awareness of cultural pluralism in the world. The East was much more than the negation of the West, an object of the latter's contempt or pity, something whose only hope lay in wholesale transformation. For example, in 1854 the New York Quarterly reported the longing of a traveler for the life, manners, and climate of the Orient, which "all our comfort and all our facilities for travelling by steamers and railroads cannot satisfy or dispel." Three years later, dissatisfaction with the "matter-of-fact, work-a-day age" prompted James P. Walker to publish the Oriental Annual, an anthology of Eastern folklore and poetry.

Such expressions approach cultural relativism, the feeling that each culture has its own autonomous tradition and inherent characteristics that cannot be artificially changed by external stimuli. In nineteenth-century America, thoroughgoing cultural relativism was a rare phenomenon; but to the extent that some thought about the question, it became inexorably linked with the idea of human progress. If a distinct cultural tradition was a product of centuries of history, could it ever be significantly altered from without? Would it ever be possible to change peoples' ways of life? If they lived in abject poverty and suffered from despotic rule, was it not because they were so conditioned by tradition, and by their collective traits? In short, were they not living as they were simply because they were made to be that way?

These questions were of particular interest to Americans because they had obvious implications for the slavery dispute. Just as they debated among themselves whether black men and women were capable of education and progress, and if they would be better off in an industrial than in a plantation economy, Americans discussed colors other than white and black. According to a popular view, humankind was divided into white, black, yellow, brown, and red races, each with distinctive traits that were often considered immutable. Almost invariably, the black people were placed at the bottom of the hierarchy of races. Samuel Morton's Crania Americana (1839) asserted that the Caucasian race was characterized by "the highest intellectual endowments" and that the Mongolian race was "ingenious, imitative, and highly susceptible of cultivation," whereas the "Ethiopian" was "joyous, flexible, and indolentthe lowest grade of humanity." The bulk of humanity, being neither white nor black, thus belonged to the gray area between the highest and the lowest categories. It is not surprising that there were considerable ambiguities in American attitudes toward them. They had unique features, some of which could be readily appreciated by Americans, but this did not mean that they were the equal of Westerners.

United States cultural relations before the Civil War, then, were of particular significance when Americans dealt with cultures and societies outside Western civilization. Their responses combined the prevailing sense of Western superiority with some appreciation of the strange. Confidence in the universality of certain values was coupled with more rigid racialist thinking. The overwhelmingly European-centered cultural framework was undermined by some individuals who looked to the East as a fascinating alternative. On the whole, however, it would seem that non-Western cultures and peoples had not yet made a strong impact on American society. If there were intercultural relations between them, they were not equal but basically unidirectional.


The situation did not change drastically after the Civil War, but there was a greater awareness of different civilizations than there had been earlier. Fundamentally this reflected the technological development of the last decades of the nineteenth century, when steam and electricity, as observers were fond of pointing out, narrowed distances between various parts of the world. One could travel far more easily and speedily than before, and news in one corner of the globe could be transmitted almost overnight to most other regions. Great migrations of people started from Asia to the American continent, and from Europe to Africa and South America. One saw more foreigners in one's lifetime than earlier. The opening of more and more Asian ports to Western trade served to introduce commodities from distant lands into the daily life of average Asians and Westerners. In many areas of the non-Western world, the process of reform and transformation began to remake traditional societies in the image of the modern West. But the very experience of modernization caused some hard rethinking about cultural values. Westernization meant a loss of innocence to many a non-Westerner, while the global character of the modern transformation often suggested to Westerners the dilution of their own identity.

These were extremely interesting phenomena, and most of the crucial questions raised then have persisted to this day. It may be said that toward the end of the nineteenth century, world history entered an age of globalization that had cultural, as well as political and economic, implications. Economically, the phenomenon has been referred to as modernization, a neutral term suggesting that any society with certain endowments may opt for change. Modernized nations would establish global networks of capital, goods, and technology, which in turn would help further modernize their economies and ways of life. Such globalization had obvious implications for international cultural relations. Not only did the more advanced nations become more than ever interdependent economically, but they also came to share a great deal of information and technology. For Americans, this meant a more cosmopolitan outlook, a renewed awareness that they had a great deal in common with Europeans, Canadians, and other "civilized" people. It is not surprising that they took advantage of the new means of transportation and communication to travel, live, and even work in Europe, while the latter also sent its scholars, artists, and musicians to the United States. There was a great deal of cultural exchange across the Atlantic. Against this sort of cosmopolitanism, there were, to be sure, nationalists who insisted on the uniqueness of the American historical experience and worried that modern civilization was making all nations interchangeable. Some even argued that conflict of interest and even war, rather than shared outlooks and ways of life, would preserve the vitality of the nation. This, too, it must be noted, was a cultural question. The often heated debate at the end of the nineteenth century on the character and future direction of the American nation was thus a response to globalization. Cultural relations across the Atlantic were becoming ever closer, as Americans and Europeans came to view themselves as members of the same intellectual, artistic, and technological universe.

In the meantime, Americans joined Europeans in linking other parts of the globe closer together. They were, at one level, helping modernize those regions. Since the capital and technology necessary for modernization were in short supply in almost every non-Western country, Western capital had to be introduced; and this inevitably involved the coming of European and American financiers, engineers, and manufacturers who would employ native labor and middlemen to establish their economic institutions. Americans, even though in the aggregate their country was still a net importer of capital from Europe, were already active. They were instrumental, for instance, in the construction of the first railroad in China, in the 1870s. They invested in coastal shipping in China and Japan, established syndicates for obtaining railway concessions in Asia and the Middle East, and participated in the development of mines in all these regions. This was intercultural relations in a broad sense. Americans were relating themselves to other peoples through the medium of capitalist enterprises.

Although the profit motive was uppermost, an influx of foreign capital and technology invariably had noneconomic as well as economic effects on the targets of Western expansion. Americans in China, for instance, were never in a sufficient number to involve themselves at all levels of mercantile and industrial activities. They needed local personnel as interpreters, clerks, messengers, business assistants, and even associates, and as "compradors" who acted as liaisons between foreigners and officials. Such diverse contacts were bound to affect Chinese manners and ideas. In fact, among the most "Americanized" Chinese were those who lived in the treaty ports and learned modern capitalist practices. Associations such as local chambers of commerce provided a setting where Americans and Chinese met and conducted social affairs as well as business matters.

Politically, the process of globalization was synonymous with what was then called, and has since been called, imperialism. The world was divided into those who established control over distant territories and those who became objects of such control. A handful of imperialist nations appropriated among themselves the vast lands of Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the Pacific Ocean as colonies, semi-colonies, or spheres of influence. This was a military-political process, since control necessitated that a power structure be imposed upon alien peoples. Without such a regime, it was feared that local instability would create a chaotic condition and threaten the interests of a particular imperialist nation or invite the extension of power by its rivals. It seemed impossible and unwise to leave things as they were. Americans, no less than citizens of other advanced countries, were exhorted to reach out to far corners of the globe to join the forces of imperialist expansion.

Imperialism even in such a narrow sense was an important chapter in intercultural relations, for the assertion of power over another people entailed both physical and mental contact. The Spanish-American War, for instance, called forth a fierce debate within the United States on the wisdom of acquiring tropical colonies. Americans had never established territorial control over lands in the tropics, and they had to think hard about the implications of the new action. Since they had not given much thought to Filipinos or Puerto Ricans, they turned to what few books were available on these peoples. They read Andrew Clarke and John Foreman, among othersEnglish authorities on the tropical islands. English colonialism provided an intellectual framework within which Americans discussed the new empire. They turned to Charles Dilke, Joseph Chamberlain, Henry Norman, George Curzon, and others to learn how colonies should be governed. Colonial administration seemed a very different matter from the governing of new territories in the continental United States or of the American Indians. The country would have to establish a new colonial service and train men and women fit for work in the tropics. The numerous magazine articles on these subjects during and immediately after the Spanish-American War attest to the impact of the war upon America's intercultural relations. The American people had to learn from scratch what it meant to be masters over an alien race.

This learning took various forms. At the popular level, war stories and novels were written to familiarize the general reader with conditions in the tropics, and children's adventure books sought to impart a sense of patriotic destiny to the younger generation. Quick reference volumes with revealing titles were also published, such as Thomas C. Copeland's The American Colonial Handbook: A Ready Reference of Facts and Figures, Historical, Geographical, and Commercial, About Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Hawaii, and Guam (1899). Adult education programs such as the Chautauqua Society conducted seminars on the history of the Philippines. As a matter of course the academic community was selected to provide the intellectual leadership needed to deal with imperial problems, and it readily obliged. Universities established courses in colonial administration, imperialism, and tropical geography; and professional organizations such as the American Historical Association and the American Economic Association were engaged in turning out data and ideas that would be useful to the government in administering the new empire. The acquisition of overseas territories broadened the horizon for historians, economists, political scientists, sociologists, and anthropologists, who would have to redefine the scope of their respective disciplines to take advantage of the new opportunities. For example, the American Anthropologist noted in December 1898 that students of folklore would find "a rich field awaiting them in our territory." Anthropological studies of the Filipinos provided an intellectual underpinning for the establishment of a colonial regime over the islands.

In all this literature there was a feeling of excitement. Imperialism compelled Americans to encounter, mentally if not physically, a host of alien peoples, whereas earlier their experience had been limited to dealing with Indians and blacks. The result was to reaffirm the sense of America's cultural superiority, which was now much more openly linked to Britain than it had been earlier in the century. It was as if imperialism made the United States akin to Great Britain. The two branches of the Anglo-Saxon race, it appeared, rediscovered their common heritage and vocabulary. They were both expansionists, many writers pointed out, better fitted than any other nation in the world for the administration of less-developed countries. They were to cooperate so that their respective empires would come to stand for enlightenment and efficiency. Elbridge S. Brooks was echoing a widespread sentiment when he told his young readers in Lawton and Roberts: A Boy's Adventure in the Philippines and the Transvaal (1900) that "the Stars and Stripes in the Philippines, and the Union Jack in South Africa, are advancing the interests of humanity and civilization. [Untrammeled] liberty to the barbarian is as disastrous a gift as are unquestioning concessions to a republic which has been a republic only in name."

The last sentence reflected self-defensiveness about empire that was just beneath the surface optimism characteristic of the age of imperialism. In extending their control over alien races, Americans could look to the British for experience and guidance; but both of them had to confront the fact that as they advanced to far reaches of the globe, they were causing drastic changes in other societies. The non-Western parts of the world that earlier had been seen as decadent, static, or backward now seemed to be undergoing a period of profound crisis and instability as a result of the impact of Western technology, ideas, and institutions. If the expansionist thrust of the West was an inevitable development of history, then the consequent turmoil, confusion, and even anarchy in many regions of the world would have to be coped with. There were even more serious problems. If non-Western peoples should discard traditional values for new ones, what would happen to their indigenous cultures? Would they ever become thoroughly "Westernized"? What if they were transformed only superficially and remained basically uncivilized even though the superstructures of their societies were modernized? Would they become pro-Western or anti-Western?

These were some of the most interesting questions in America's intercultural relations during the age of imperialism. That was why so much was written toward the end of the nineteenth century about the nature of Western relations with other cultures. The future destiny of American civilization seemed bound up with the larger question of the evolving relationship between West and non-West. For example, in June 1897, Benjamin Ide Wheeler, who was soon to become president of the University of California at Berkeley, declared in an article in the Atlantic Monthly entitled "Greece and the Eastern Question" that the real question in the Middle East was "who is to lead, who is to champion, who is to represent Occidentalism in its antithesis between Occidentalism and Orientalism," an idea expressed in earlier decades but that now seemed an urgent question because of the resurgence of the East. Similarly, the naval strategist and historian Alfred Thayer Mahan discussed the "stirring of the East" and posed the question of "whether Eastern or Western civilization is to dominate throughout the earth and to control its physical terms." Observers like Wheeler and Mahan agreed that the West's hope lay in its spiritual superiority to the East; even if the latter should catch up technologically and economically, and even though non-Westerners vastly outnumbered Westerners, the future of Western civilization was bright because of its unique heritage. Nevertheless, the fear was always present that the East might prove to be a formidable threat precisely because it lacked the West's refinement, humanity, and self-restraint. A modern Orient without the Occident's values might prove to be totally unmanageable. The West should therefore brace itself for what was termed by many "the coming conflict of civilizations" in the twentieth century.

The cultural monism of the earlier decades was thus giving way to self-consciousness and defensiveness in the age of imperialism. Such apprehension, to be sure, was limited to a minority of writers. Most Americans would have agreed with the historian John Fiske's optimism, as he expressed it in an article on the new "manifest destiny" in 1885, that "within another century all the elements of military predominance on the earth, including that of simple numerical superiority, will have been gathered into the hands not merely of Europeans generally, but more specifically into the hands of the offspring of the Teutonic tribes who conquered Britain in the fifth century." Yet this type of complacency, reflecting a unilinear view of human (Western) progress, could not entirely accommodate some concurrent developments that had enormous implications for intercultural relations. Most notable among them were the growing fascination with non-Western civilizations and the influx of Asian immigrants.


Americans had always been curious about other peoples and had cherished imports from distant lands. But in the age of globalization there arose serious interest not only in curios and exotica of strange peoples but also in the fine arts, religions, philosophies, and ways of life of other countries, especially in the East. During the 1880s, the United States legation in Constantinople was headed by General Lew Wallace and by Samuel S. Cox, both noted for their favorable views of Oriental cultures. Wallace, the author of the popular novel Ben Hur, wrote of the "bloodthirsty and treacherous, recklessly brave and exceedingly beautiful" cavalry of the Ottoman Empire. "Even among the meanest of them," he wrote, "you will see noble, well-set heads of the finest mould, testifying to unmixed blood of the most perfect of living races." Cox recounted his experiences in the East in Orient Sunbeams. The message he sought to convey to his readers was that they should remove their prejudice toward people of different religions. He wrote of Islam: "Whatever we may think of its founder, however unacceptable may be some of his doctrines yet as a scheme of religion influencing as many, if not more millions of people than Christianity, is it not worthy of being considered by other peoples?"

This sort of serious interest in what would later be called cultural anthropology was quite visible at the end of the century. The World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, held at Chicago to commemorate the four hundredth anniversary of Christopher Columbus's voyage, provides a good case in point. Close to 30 million people visited the fair, which was spread over 686 acres of land in south Chicago. Most countries of the world participated, including Japan, which spent millions of dollars to construct buildings specifically for the fair and to present an exhibition of all aspects of traditional and contemporary life. Although this was not the first time that Americans had had an opportunity to examine Japanese artifacts closelyJapan had participated in the 1876 Centennial Exposition at Philadelphiatheir observations led to awareness that Japanese culture was much more than a phenomenon to be appreciated in isolation from the rest of that people's life. If the Japanese craftsmen at the Columbian Exposition seemed polite, industrious, and capable of producing refined objects, this had to be related to the totality of Japanese history and values. Japanese civilization could not be understood only within the framework of Western moral standards. Indeed, it might be comparable on equal terms with American civilization; and it might be foolish to judge other peoples from the viewpoint of a self-centered value system. "I just made up my mind," says the hero of Carl Western's novel Adventures of Reuben and Cynthy at the World's Fair about the exposition, "that if they [the Japanese] were heathens, there were lots of things we could learn from them."

The Japanese were not the only heathens at Chicago. The Columbian Exposition coincided with the World Parliament of Religions, to which many non-Christian leaders were invited. From India came several prominent figures, including Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu leader noted for his belief that all religions contain truth. His arrival aroused much excitement among Americans. He not only attended the parliament but also traveled extensively in the United States. Americans were fascinated by his stress on religious toleration: "I preach nothing against the Great One of Galilee. I only ask the Christians to take in the Great Ones of India along with the Lord Jesus." To groups of ladies in Salem, Massachusetts, or Streator, Illinois, where he gave talks, it must have seemed quite a revelation that a Hindu monk should have so much to offer to contemporary society. Many were rude; in Chicago, Vivekananda recorded in his diary, "A man from behind pulled at my turban. I looked back and saw that he was a very gentlemanly looking man, neatly dressed. I spoke to him, and when he found that I knew English he became very much abashed." But the Chicago Herald probably expressed the predominant sentiment of those who heard Vivekananda's lectures when it wrote, "Vivekananda is undoubtedly the greatest figure in the Parliament of Religions. After hearing him, we feel how foolish it is to send missionaries to this learned nation." Far more than an object of curiosity, Indian civilization could be considered an important entity, even an alternative to the modern ways of life.

Perhaps the most logical embodiment of the emerging attitude was that of Ernest Fenollosa, a philosopher and art critic from Salem, Massachusetts. As a lecturer at Tokyo University in the 1890s, he was instrumental both in transmitting Western thought to the Japanese and in discovering the aesthetic value of Japanese art for Westerners. He taught the philosophy of Friedrich Hegel to students in Tokyo while establishing a collection of Japanese prints for a museum in Boston. The two activities were, from his point of view, of equal importance. Whereas earlier Americans had assumed their superiority and gone to non-Western parts of the world as missionaries and educators, he was convinced that West and non-West had a great deal to learn from one another. The two civilizations were of equal significance. Each had its distinctive cultural tradition, and together East and West constituted complementary halves of the harmonious whole that was mankind. The two were like the Chinese dichotomy of yin and yang, standing for contrasting pairs such as darkness and light, moon and sun, or female and male. The West, as Fenollosa saw it, represented masculinity, strength, and vigor; but it was never whole in itself. Only through a harmonizing relationship with the East, standing for femininity and refinement, could it sustain its existence. No wonder that Fenollosa's favorite analogy was to marriage. As he said in the preface to East and West (1893): "The synthesis of two continental civilizations, matured apart through fifteen hundred years, will mark this close of our century as an unique dramatic epoch in human affairs. At the end of a great cycle the two halves of the world come together for the final creation of man."

Not all writers were as sanguine as Fenollosa about the peaceful relationship between East and West. It was at the end of the century that Rudyard Kipling's phrase "East is East, and West is West" became popular. Lafcadio Hearn, a Greek-born American novelist who had long resided in Japan, published his Kokoro, a study of the Japanese mentality, in 1896, and stressed that a Westerner could never hope to comprehend the depth of the Japanese mind. In his words, "The more complex feelings of the Oriental have been composed by combinations of experiences, ancestral and individual, which have had no really precise correspondence in Western life, and which we can therefore not fully know. For converse reasons, the Japanese cannot, even though they would, give Europeans their best sympathy." The overwhelming majority of Americans would probably have agreed more with Hearn than with Fenollosa. The popularity of David Belasco's play Madame Butterfly (1900) showed, if nothing else, that there was still a very widespread view that West and non-West might meet on a transient basis, but that their encounter produced tragic consequences because of their inability to understand one another fully.

One additional factor in the development of intercultural relations was the coming of Asians to the United States toward the end of the nineteenth century. Chinese laborers had arrived on the West Coast during the 1840s, but it was after the Civil War that their immigration and residence began to create serious social and political problems. And just when, in the 1880s, their influx was checked through treaty arrangements and congressional enactments, the Japanese began to arrive, first in Hawaii and, after the islands' annexation by the United States, in the western states. The bulk of these people were not exactly embodiments of Chinese or Japanese civilization. They were overwhelmingly poor, illiterate or undereducated, and without more than rudimentary skills. Still, they represented the societies from which they came, and to that extent their experiences in the United States constituted part of America's intercultural relations.

This is best seen in the rhetoric of the Oriental exclusionist movement. The exclusionists on the West Coast and their supporters elsewhere frequently resorted to the argument that the very fabric of American civilization was at stake. Should Asians be allowed to inundate the country, they said, not only would they compete with native labor because of their low wages, but they would also undermine the American way of life. Unlike European immigrants, they brought alien customs and modes of living and, unless checked, would most certainly Orientalize American society. The key to the Chinese immigration dispute, a writer pointed out in 1876, was that the Chinese "never adopts an iota of our civilization. His civilization displaces exactly so much of our own; it substitutes Mongolianism." Similar expressions would be heard for many decades. The fundamental issue appeared to be the inevitable conflict of civilizations. Americans were called upon to consider whether their country was to remain Occidental or to become Oriental, under Asiatic influence. To those deeply concerned with the problem, it must have seemed axiomatic that East and West could never live together in peace and harmony. Such particularism was a reflection of the growing proximity, physical as well as geographical, of West and non-West in the age of globalization. At this level, then, America's intercultural relations exhibited narrowness and racial prejudice as defensive measures to preserve what were considered unique features of Western civilization.

Not all non-Westerners who came to the United States, however, were poor and illiterate laborers. A small minority of scholars, officials, businessmen, and other members of the elite visited the country, some to stay for a long time. They contributed to America's intercultural relations by associating with their counterparts in the United States and by articulating their views to Americans and to people at home. Some of them came with good classical educations, attracted to an America that was envisioned as a land of the free. For those who were highly educated and politically conscious, but who felt themselves alienated from their own lands for political or cultural reasons, the United States beckoned as a land of freedom, opportunity, and humanism. The image of America as the place to go for education was established in China and Japan by the end of the nineteenth century, as was the image that in the United States one could find a refuge from oppression and persecution in one's own country. Baba Tatsui, a young activist, left Japan for America to pursue his struggle for political rights, and many of his compatriots with socialistic views followed him. Sun Yat-sen engaged in revolutionary activities among Chinese in Hawaii and the United States. Some of China's constitutionalists also visited America, where they founded newspapers and conducted fund-raising campaigns.

What the United States meant to these visiting non-Westerners must be considered an important aspect of the country's intercultural relations. To many of them, this was "the sacred land of liberty," as the Japanese said. But there were others who were shocked by the contrast between that image and the reality. Uchimura Kanzō, the Japanese Christian leader, was repelled by materialistic excesses. Some returned to their homelands to spread certain images of the United States. It can be said that at this time there were non-American as well as American agents of intercultural relations. The United States exerted subtle influences upon other countries not only through its own merchants, travelers, or missionaries but also through foreigners visiting the country. Often it was through America that the latter first encountered Western civilization, and the importance of this is hard to exaggerate. For better or worse, what they saw in the United States epitomized for them the essence of capitalism, constitutionalism, and Christianity. The experiences of a man like Uchimura, who had been introduced to Christianity through American missionaries in Japan but who came to the United States and discovered the gap between what he called Bible Christianity and American Christianity, are fascinating examples of cross-cultural interactions. It was as if America taught him what Christianity was not.


By 1900, then, there were already complex layers of intercultural relations, some subtle new forces and others that were crude echoes of the past, but all constituting parts of the developing trends toward globalization. These layers continued to evolve after the turn of the century. The history of intercultural relations in the twentieth century is extremely difficult to characterize, since it is an ongoing process. It is possible, however, to examine the period before the outbreak of World War II in terms of two contradictory currents: univer salistic and particularistic tendencies. On the one hand, there was every indication that American influence was spreading to other lands; at the same time, there grew self-conscious opposition to American and Western cultural predominance in the world.

By the time of World War I, the United States had established its position as the leading Western power, not only in industrial production, trade, and foreign loans and investments but also in armaments and political influence. While this was not the same thing as cultural hegemony, there is little doubt that the United States came to stand and speak for Western civilization at a time when the European countries were engaged in fratricidal conflicts and disputes. One reason why President Woodrow Wilson wanted to postpone American entry into the war was his fear for the survival of Western civilization. He came to see his country as a guardian of that precious tradition, a sentiment shared by an increasing number of British. But similar views had also been expressed by Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, who had come to take for granted the spread of benign American influence to the rest of the world. Civilization, as Taft never tired of saying, was based on an unlimited interchange of goods and capital, which in turn contributed to international peace, harmony, and understanding. Americans would carry their wares throughout the world and promote economic modernization and political awakening. Because of their superiority in technology, organization, and business practices, Americans were bound to emerge as the most influential group in the new world of enlightened international relations. They would be among the foremost agents of change in the twentieth century. Wilson fully accepted such ideas and elevated them to a vision of internationalism in which American values would reignvalid not as American but as universal values. No wonder that he was eager to promote missionary activities and was captivated by the idea of establishing American mandates in various parts of the world.

Because the European countries lost population, productive capacity, morale, and prestige as a result of the war, the United States was able to replace European power and influence in international affairs. American technology, epitomized by the automobile, dominated the postwar world, as did popular American culture such as jazz, radio, and motion pictures. In Europe one talked of the "decline of the West" after Oswald Spengler's book of that title was published in 1918, but somehow the West that was declining did not seem to include the United States. Observers such as the sociologists Thorstein Veblen and Pitirim Sorokin discussed the ramifications of the emerging mass society; but they implied that this was the way of the future, that developments in the United States portended what was to take place elsewhere. To understand modern society one looked at the United States. Whether one liked it or not, it seemed that Americanization was an inevitable phenomenon of the postwar world.

This was also the way American influence was perceived in non-Western countries. In Turkey, India, China, Japan, and elsewhere, the war had caused European prestige to suffer; but the United States appeared more vigorous and resilient than its European cousins. American trade was the most extensive in history, and a growing bulk of it was conducted with non-European countries. Americans appeared in areas where earlier one had seen only Europeans, investing in oil fields and establishing manufacturing plants. John Dewey's instrumentalism became the most popular philosophy in universities throughout Asia, and women in distant societies turned to American women not only for fashions but also for political ideals and social visions, such as women's suffrage and population control. Jazz, baseball, and Charlie Chaplin became just as popular in Japan as in America. "Modern times" was synonymous with American culture for people of the 1920s. Even in the 1930s, it is possible to argue, American influence did not abate; the process of cultural Americanization proceeded unchecked until well into the decade. Visits by American baseball teams were always important news to the Japanese, often overshadowing any feeling of crisis as a result of the latter nation's imperialistic activities on the Asian continent. Charles Lindbergh was as well known across the Pacific as across the Atlantic, and even Japanese martial music had definite traces of American influence. Children and women shed their traditional costumes and started wearing Westernized clothes, and bars and cabarets mushroomed. In many ways Japan on the eve of Pearl Harbor was a society more Americanized than ever before.

While the interwar era, then, was a period of rapid Americanization, it is also true that the 1920s and the 1930s saw self-conscious opposition to, and even rejection of, the West by some non-Western countries. They began to assert their identity, no longer content to remain objects of Western expansion and receptacles of Western influence. This second trend, toward particularism, was already visible at the beginning of the century, when people everywhere noted signs that seemed to indicate the non-West's rise against the West. The Russo-Japanese War, which the Japanese took pains to characterize not as a racial conflict but as one between civilization and barbarism, nevertheless was cheered by non-Westerners from Egypt to China as a victory of a colored nation over a white nation. In the Near East and North Africa, Islam was becoming self-conscious and militant; Islamic spokesmen talked of an Arab renaissance and the coming jihad against the Christian West. Mosques began to be built in American cities.

The Young Turks, the Persian nationalists, and the Armenian revolutionaries felt betrayed by the peace settlements after World War I. Asians became disillusioned by the alleged universalism of Wilsonian internationalism when the Western powers failed to adopt a racial equality clause as part of the League of Nations Covenant. The Chinese were bitter toward the United States and Great Britain for their alleged failure to stop Japanese encroachment on Shantung. The Turks viewed the postwar settlement as an imposition by the Western nations at the expense of the Ottoman Empire. For these varied reasons, the international order after 1919 appeared to be an "Anglo-American peace," as Prince Konoye Fumimaro of Japan said.

Nationalism, which had been inspired by the modern Western example, became a force against the West in many non-Western countries during the interwar years. It took on a culturally particularistic meaning as Chinese, Arabs, Indians, and others asserted their distinctive identity as separate from European or American civilization. In China, for instance, nationalism was not only aimed at recovering rights lost to the imperialists; it also revealed itself in a movement to develop native Christian churches and to replace Westerners in administrative posts at colleges and universities. The fascination the Chinese felt for Marxism and Leninism was in part due to the anti-Western messages, explicit or implicit, that they found in these ideologies. Marxist-Leninist thought gave the Chinese a conceptual tool with which to attack Western capitalism as well as Western civilization. The wholesale transformation of the country after the pattern of the West was no longer seriously advocated. Now there were other models and other choices; some sought a Soviet-type revolution, while others visualized a combination of Chinese tradition with modern technology as the best way to save China.

More or less the same phenomenon of self-conscious reassessment of Western values could be observed in Turkey, India, Japan, and other countries. The trend was no doubt encouraged by the literature of pessimism that Europeans were producing in the decade after the war. Many of these writers expressed doubt that Western civilization could survive, and some turned to the East as a source of salvation. As an article in a February 1925 issue of the Europaische Staats und Wirtschafts Zeitung put it, "Our Western world is weary; not weary of life, but of strife and hatred. Indeed, our peculiar society and civilization have been found wanting. Men are looking to the East unconsciously, and therefore sincerely.The world of Asia draws us with its promise of something new and something that will liberate." Eastern philosophers like Rabindranath Tagore and Vasudeo Metta were eager to oblige and to offer this "something" for which Westerners seemed to be looking. Unfortunately, very often their thoughts were utilized in Asia for nationalistic upheavals against pervasive Western influence.

The world crisis of the 1930s that culminated in World War II definitely had a cultural dimension; it may be argued that the major difference between the two world wars was the addition of the cultural factor in the second. World War I was mainly a civil war among Western countries, whereas World War II involved peoples of diverse cultural traditions and ideologies. It was in essence intercultural warfare. This was particularly true of the United States and its relations in Asia and the Pacific. Throughout the 1930s, Japan pursued an aggressive foreign policy and gave it an ideological sanction of pan-Asianism. The concept was transparently anti-Western. Asia, according to this view, was to reassert itself against the imperialistic exploitation by the West, which had cultural as well as political and economic aspects. For too long, Japanese nationalists declared, the West had permeated Asian life, subverting traditional values and destroying age-old social customs. Asians had ceased to be Asian; they had either become Westernized or objects of Western influence. They had lost their identities and their souls. If they were to regain these things, they must stand together as Asians and develop a regional system of cultural and economic autonomy. The ideology of Japanese militarism stressed the eradication of Western values from education, mass media, and daily living, and the need to return to the essence of national culture. Apologists for Japanese aggression also viewed pan-Asian regionalism as a viable alternative to both imperialism and particularistic nationalism, two vices that they attributed to the modern West. If Asia were to reject imperialism and yet to avoid repeating the experience of the modern nation-states constantly struggling against one another, it was imperative that Asian countries organize themselves into a regional system.

For the bulk of Americans, these events in distant Asia were of far less importance than their individual struggles for economic survival at home. But there was a genuine cultural dimension in the economic crisis, in that the values of bourgeois mass society seemed less and less relevant to the unemployed, the handicapped, and the racially segregated. Western civilization appeared to be seriously threatened from within, as evidenced by the growth of Italian fascism, German nazism, and Soviet communism. Americans, no longer sure of the eternal validity of middle-class precepts and symbols, often turned to Benito Mussolini or Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin as possible saviors of civilization. At the same time, many of them embraced isolationism, in the belief that by staying out of war in Europe or Asia, the United States would be able to preserve what was left of civilization and help reconstruct Europe after it had been devastated by war. For a man like Charles Lindbergh, it was nothing short of a crime against Western civilization to enter the fray on the side of either Britain or Germany. Only the uncivilized in other lands would benefit from such fratricide.

In such a context, the war between the United States and Japan could be seen in a cultural context. The irony was that the combatants fought with modern weapons, utilizing all the techniques of scientific warfare. As noted earlier, despite its profession of indigenous values and pan-Asianism, Japan in 1941 was more Westernized than ever before. The decision to establish control in the areas of Asia that were rich in natural resources could also be seen as a device to proceed with further industrialization and economic strengthening. The Japanese dream of an autonomous empire was little different from a Western conception. Cultural particularism did not cloak these ambitions.

The United States, on the other hand, regained the sense of cultural identity and confidence when war came. The self-doubt and crisisconsciousness of the 1930s were replaced by a renewed faith in the essential soundness and goodness of Western values. The faith was expressed in the universalistic rhetoric of the Atlantic Charter, the Declaration of the United Nations, and the communiqués issued by the Big Three at the end of their meetings at Teheran (1943) and Yalta (1945). The language reaffirmed the principles of peace, justice, and human rights, which were seen to be as relevant as ever because the Axis powers were pictured as the would-be architects of a world based on diametrically opposed values. It is true that many Americans saw the Pacific war in more parochial ways, stressing the racial aspect. To cite one extreme example from within the government, Captain Harry L. Pence of the U.S. Navy reiterated, at meetings of the State Department Advisory Committee on Postwar Foreign Policy, that the war involved the question of "which race was to survive." He favored "the almost total elimination of the Japanese as a race," saying, "Japan should be bombed so that there was little left of its civilization." Moreover, the Japanese "should not be dealt with as civilized human beings. Weshould kill them before they kill us." Although representative of a current of opinion in wartime America, such views were not part of postwar planning. On the contrary, officials and opinion leaders continued to stress universalistic principles and to search for a new world order in which Japan, no less than other countries, would participate. Japan's surrender thus implied, at the level of cultural affairs, the recognition that particularism had failed and the acceptance by Japan of American ideas as more applicable to its needs.


Intercultural relations after World War II were far more extensive and diverse than earlier. The United States became the virtual inheritor of European civilization, emerging as the strongest and richest country in the world, capable of supporting the arts and financing scholarly and artistic undertakings. European refugees enriched America's cultural life. For the first time it could be said that American art was in the vanguard of modern art, not a pale reflection of European works. The same was true of literature and music. Unlike the period after World War I, however, there was much less self-consciousness about American culture. It was assumed as a matter of course, rather than asserted as a matter of principle, that American artists, novelists, and musicians were engaged in creative work that had relevance to the contemporary world as a whole. Europeans looked to the United States to discern artistic and literary trends. Moreover, American troops stationed in most parts of Europe transmitted American popular culture and lifestyles to the Old World. It became important for European intellectuals to study in the United States if they wished to keep abreast of developments in scholarship.

The impact on the non-Western world was no less great. American influence was transmitted through soldiers, officials, and businessmen who were scattered throughout Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Consciously or unconsciously, they contributed to a deeper cultural involvement of America in other lands. America came to stand for what was fashionable and up-to-date. At the same time, Americans abroad collectively and individually increased their nation's awareness of other cultures and contributed to a greater appreciation of non-Western traditions. Many who were trained during the war as language specialists and intelligence officers retained their interest in foreign countries, and some of them became leaders in the postwar development of "area studies." American colleges began seriously teaching courses in non-Western civilizations and founded institutes to further research in these areas. There was also a flood of non-Europeans to the United States as war brides, students, and visitors. Through them Americans came into contact with non-Western ways of life.

This flowering of cultural relations after World War II was in many ways a culmination of the globalizing trend that had begun in the nineteenth century. Globalization had connected different parts of the world closer together; it had also manifested itself in imperialism. It had often provoked fierce opposition on the part of nations and individuals that wished to preserve their traditional loyalties and ways of life. In many ways the atomic bombs that brought World War II to conclusion also ended such opposition in the sense that war from now on came to be seen as truly global, something that was to be avoided at all cost if civilization were to survive. This meant that military conflict and confrontation would come to constitute a lesser part of international relations than earlier. To be sure, the estrangement among the victorious powers after 1945, known as the Cold War, did become a pervasive phenomenon and defined one facet of world affairs for nearly half a century. But it would be misleading to subordinate all other phenomena to the geopolitical confrontation. For the Cold War failed to prevent another, even more substantive development, globalization, from gaining momentum after World War II. And globalization was fundamentally a nongeopolitical phenomenon. U.S. cultural relations in the second half of the twentieth century may be understood in such a context.

It would appear that the old opposition between globalization, on one hand, and local identities, on the other, gave way to the virtually universal forces of global interdependence and interpenetration after World War II. These forces were economic, social, and cultural. Modernization provided one easily recognizable framework to comprehend this phenomenon. In the wake of a war that had divided the globe, there resurfaced the idea that all the countries in the world were tending toward a more modern phase. Economic development, political democracy, and social justice appeared to be essential ingredients of modernity; and intellectuals discussed how such an outlook could be encouraged in a traditional society. Appreciation of non-Western civilizations often took the form of discovering elements in them that were potentially "modern." In this process, there grew some tolerance for cultural pluralism: not just greater appreciation for Japanese architecture, Chinese food, or Indian philosophy but economic, political, and social changes in those countries. The hope was that through such changes, coupled with the new outlook in postwar America, foreigners and Americans would come to a better understanding of one another. They would develop a common vocabulary of mutual respect as they cooperated to bring about a more modern world. The pace of globalization was being accelerated in a changing world. U.S. cultural relations contributed to globalization and at the same time to an appreciation of diversity. This was a far more significant story than the vicissitudes of the Cold War, for ultimately it was the globalizing world that put an end to the Cold War, not the other way round.

It might be objected that the Cold War did have a globalizing aspect. Not only did it provoke fears of a nuclear conflagration that would annihilate the whole world, but the vocabulary of the geopolitical confrontation often had global connotations. The Soviet Union and its allies spoke of a worldwide people's struggle against the evils of capitalism and imperialism, while the United States and its partners accused the opponents of infringing upon such universal values as freedom and democracy. Moreover, both sides frequently used cultural means to wage Cold War: propaganda, student exchanges, conferences of intellectuals, and the like. Even in the United States, where traditionally cultural pursuits had been considered to belong exclusively to the private sphere, the government did not hesitate to sponsor art exhibits, publications of journals, or meetings of labor leaders abroad in order to try to influence other countries' opinions. A cultural Cold War did exist, as did official cultural policies. But if such policies resulted in a growing interdependence among different parts of the world, it was more by accident than by design. What brought about the dissipation and, ultimately, the end of the Cold War were not these policies but the growing global consciousness, a product of cultural interpenetration, not of the geopolitical confrontation whose fundamental orientation was to divide the globe, not to unite it.


That international cultural relations became an increasingly crucial factor in defining the world may be seen in certain remarkable developments during the 1970s. It was then that such broadly cultural agendas as the protection of the natural environment and the promotion of human rights came to be considered vital aspects of international affairs. The United Nations conference on the environment that was held in Stockholm in 1972, for instance, was a landmark in that the protection of the physical universe from pollution, or of wild animals from excessive killing, came to be viewed as a matter of concern to the entire international community so that nations and peoples would have to join forces to achieve these objectives. Likewise, the promotion of human rights, whether of "prisoners of conscience," ethnic minorities, women, the handicapped, or other groups subject to discrimination, was seen as something that required international cooperation to undertake. World conferences began to be held, with or without the sponsorship of the United Nations, that addressed the rights of these diverse groups. Under the circumstances, United States foreign affairs, too, were becoming broader; not just the protection of security and national interests as traditionally understood, but the realization of a more livable world, both for humans and for the ecological system, would become an objective of foreign policy. President Jimmy Carter sensed these changing circumstances when he launched an initiative to seek alternative, cleaner sources of energy and to ensure the protection of human rights worldwide, even in countries that were allied to the United States in the Cold War. Cultural questions, broadly defined, were increasingly attracting the attention of Washington and other capitals.

The 1970s were also a remarkable decade in that it was the time when cultural diversity became a matter of serious concern in international affairs and, at the same time, when the number of nongovernmental organizations mushroomed, to supplement and in some instances even to supplant the work traditionally carried out by states. The two phenomena were interrelated in that both reflected the growth of civil society and, by the same token, the decline of state authority. This was a circumstance that could be observed in the United States as well as in Soviet-bloc nations, among the rich as well as developing countries. The rise of Islamic fundamentalism and its challenge to the power of both the United States (as in Iran) and the Soviet Union (as in Afghanistan) is but one extreme example of the emergence of religious and cultural diversity as a factor in international relations. And the fact that neither superpower was able to dislodge the religious fundamentalists by force indicated the growing importance of culture as a determinant of foreign affairs. Since the traditional state apparatus was not well equipped or prepared to cope with the crisis, it is not surprising that a host of nongovernmental organizations emerged to respond to the situation. Many of them were engaged in humanitarian activities to alleviate the suffering of people caught in religious strife, while others sought to promote dialogue among different religious and ethnic groups. With respect to environmentalism and human rights, too, nongovernmental organizations grew in number and influence. One cannot discuss U.S. foreign affairs during the 1970s without taking these developments into consideration.

What such developments suggested was the possible emergence of a global civil society, a world defined by cultural forces, groups, and agendas, as opposed to the traditional world consisting of sovereign states. The latter world, of course, still existed and behaved very much as sovereign states had always done, seeking to protect and promote their national interests. But national interests were now more broadly construed than earlier, and soon many in the United States and other countries began speaking of "human security" as a shared agenda for all nations. Not separate national securities and interests, but common interests defined by shared values were coming to be seen as a desirable goal for all nations. But this was not all. Even outside the framework of sovereign entities, the key framework for international affairs as traditionally understood, many nonstate actors, including multinational enterprises and nongovernmental organizations, were coming to play more and more active roles throughout the world. Theirs was an arena for an interplay of economic, technological, and cultural forces that were not necessarily bound by national units or considerations. That arena came to be called an international civil society by students of international relations during the 1970s and the subsequent decades who saw in its formation a fundamental challenge to the traditional state system.

How the challenge would be met, and whether the international civil society would some day come to establish a more viable world order than sovereign states, were questions that fascinated statesmen and citizens alike as the twentieth century drew to a close. During the 1980s and the 1990s, there was much debate in the United States as well as elsewhere about the changing nature of international relations. Did the end of the Cold War presage the coming of an indefinite period of U.S. supremacy in world affairs? Or, on the contrary, were all great powers, even including the United States, destined eventually to decline? Which power would take its place if the United States ever did lose its hegemonic position? Such geopolitically oriented questions, however, were missing the point. They ignored the fact that international relations were increasingly being defined by nongeopolitical forces and by nonstate actors. Many of these forces and actors were cultural, broadly speaking. The globalization of cultural activities, ranging from information technology to the spread of fast food, was continuing with its own momentum, promoted by multinational enterprises, international organizations, and many other nongovernmental entities. Sometimes globalization provoked opposition on the part of forces exemplifying cultural diversity, but this was a dualism that had always existed, as we have seen. What was remarkable as the century gave way to the new millennium was that the dualism was coming more and more to determine the shape of international political and economic, as well as cultural, affairs. Cultural relations were no longer marginal pursuits, if they ever were. For the United States as well as for others, culture was coming to claim center stage as they conducted their foreign affairs.


Chisolm, Lawrence W. Fenollosa: The Far East and American Culture. New Haven, Conn., 1963. Biography that illuminates intellectual interchanges between Americans and Asians. Cohen, Warren I. East Asian Art and American Culture: A Study in International Relations. New York, 1992. Analysis of the American reception of Asian art.

Costigliola, Frank. Awkward Dominion: American Political, Economic, and Cultural Relations with Europe, 19191933. Ithaca, N.Y., 1984. A close examination of transatlantic cultural influences during the interwar years, going in both directions.

Diggins, John P. Mussolini and Fascism: The View from America. Princeton, N.J., 1972. A detailed study of what Mussolini meant to various segments of the U.S. population.

Field, James A., Jr. America and the Mediterranean World, 17761882. Princeton, N.J., 1969. The best historical treatment of American cultural relations with Middle Eastern countries.

Gienow-Hecht, Jessica C. E. Transmission Impossible: American Journalism as Cultural Diplomacy in Postwar Germany, 19451955. Baton Rouge, La., 1999. A fascinating study of an attempt to reshape German culture after World War II.

Hay, Stephen N. Asian Ideas of East and West: Tagore and His Critics in Japan, China, and India. Cambridge, Mass., 1970. Another biography that casts light on the discourse on East-West relations.

Hixson, Walter L. Parting the Curtain: Propaganda, Culture, and the Cold War, 19451961. New York, 1997. A good study of U.S. cultural policy during the Cold War.

Iriye, Akira. Mutual Images: Essays in American- Japanese Relations. Cambridge, Mass., 1975. Includes several monographs on American-Japanese cultural relations.

. "Culture and International History." In Michael J. Hogan and Thomas G. Paterson, eds. Explaining the History of American Foreign Relations. New York and Cambridge, 1991. An essay that notes some of the landmark studies of the history of intercultural, as distinct from intra-cultural, relations.

. Across the Pacific: An Inner History of American-East Asian Relations. Rev. ed. Chicago, 1992. A multicultural treatment of AmericanEast Asian relations.

. Cultural Internationalism and World Order. Baltimore, 1997. Puts international cultural relations in the framework of the development of internationalism in modern history.

Isaacs, Harold R. Scratches on Our Minds: American Images of China and India. New York, 1958. American attitudes toward China and India.

Kloppenberg, James T. Uncertain Victory: Social Democracy and Progressivism in European and American Thought, 18701920. New York, 1986. Analyzes transatlantic intellectual and political movements at the turn of the century, comprehending developments within the United States as an integral part of the story of the Western world's coming to terms with the realities of modernization.

Koppes, Clayton R., and Gregory D. Black. Hollywood Goes to War: How Politics, Profits and Propaganda Shaped World War II Movies. New York, 1987. Study of wartime culture that focuses on use of the movies as a tool for indoctrination at home and propaganda abroad.

Kuklick, Bruce. Puritans in Babylon: The Ancient Near East and American Intellectual Life, 18801931. Princeton, N.J., 1996. Studies American fascination with and archaeological activities in the Ottoman Empire and Near East.

Lancaster, Clay. The Japanese Influence in America. New York, 1963. Impact on American philosophy and literature.

Ninkovich, Frank A. The Diplomacy of Ideas: U.S. Foreign Policy and Cultural Relations, 19381950. Cambridge and New York, 1981. Treats the origins and development of official U.S. cultural relations.

Northrop, F. S. C., and Helen H. Livingston, eds. Cross-Cultural Understanding: Epistemology in Anthropology. New York, 1964. Contains essays dealing with the problem of cross-cultural understanding.

Nye, Joseph S., Jr. Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power. New York, 1990. One of the most penetrating analyses of the relationship between the cultural and other aspects of U.S. foreign affairs.

Park, Robert E. Race and Culture. Glencoe, Ill., 1950. Contains some of the earliest and most penetrating observations on the global "melting pot."

Pells, Richard. Not Like Us: How Europeans Have Loved, Hated, and Transformed American Culture Since World War II. New York, 1997. One of the few systematic studies of transatlantic cultural relations.

Reynolds, David. Rich Relations: The American Occupation of Britain, 19421945. New York, 1995. Study of American culture during the war that explicitly treats international affairs.

Rodgers, Daniel T. Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age. Cambridge, Mass., 1998. Analyzes transatlantic intellectual and political movements at the turn of the century, comprehending developments within the United States as an integral part of the story of the Western world's coming to terms with the realities of modernization.

Rosenberg, Emily S. Spreading the American Dream: American Economic and Cultural Expansion, 18901945. Rev. ed. New York, 1982. Argues that officials in Washington often informally cooperated with private businessmen, religious organizations, and philanthropic as well as other associations to spread the American way of life to other lands.

. "Cultural Interaction." In Stanley I. Kutler, ed. Encyclopedia of the United States in the Twentieth Century. Vol. 2. New York, 1996. Incorporates the vocabulary of cultural hegemony into a discussion of U.S. foreign relations.

Sumner, William Graham. Folkways: A Study of Sociological Importance of Usages, Manners, Customs, Mores, and Morals. Boston, 1913. An American anthropologist who not only described but also raised methodological questions about the study of other cultures.

See also Colonialism and Neocolonialism; Globalization; Human Rights; Imperialism; Race and Ethnicity .

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